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Thousands of Iraqis protest corruption, poor services

Several thousand demonstrators gathered in Baghdad on Friday to protest at rampant corruption and abysmal electricity services that plague Iraq, calling for officials to be held to account. "All of you together to the court, all of you are thieves," protesters at Tahrir Square carrying Iraqi flags chanted. "Friday after Friday, we'll get the corrupt out."

Baghdad and other cities have seen weeks of protests against the poor quality of services, especially power outages that leave Iraqis with only a few hours of government-supplied electricity per day as temperatures top 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). The demonstrators, many of them secular Iraqis, have blamed the services crisis on corruption and incompetence across the political class. Nabil Jassem, an organiser of the latest protest, said their demands include improving electricity and finding a new means of combating corruption.

"If anyone thinks this demonstration is targeting a minister or a certain official, I want to correct this and say it is against everyone who was responsible for the energy file from 2003 until now," Jassem told AFP. He urged Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take direct responsibility for energy affairs. Abadi took office nearly a year ago announcing tough action against corrupt practices that had come to symbolise the tenure of his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015